This young pianist has won a couple of international piano competitions and has been building an impressive résumé over the past few years. He landed in Fresno on Sunday, being presented in concert by the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series in the Concert Hall at California State University, Fresno. Like other incredible young talents, it may be difficult to get him back.
Before the concert, Andaloro’s program appeared ordinary for a young musician, offering a Mozart rondo that would not be too taxing and finishing with an impressive work by Liszt in the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. We’ve seen this before.
From the first measures of the Mozart, it was apparent that something was different here. Mozart can be played acceptably by most average musicians; the notes are not all that difficult. But to present Mozart with good tone, phrasing, and without seams is next to impossible. There simply aren’t enough notes to hide the shortcomings of the pianist.
Andaloro set the precious themes and the delicate textures of Mozart’s Rondo in D Major, K. 485 with the lightest possible touch. He didn’t abandon the sustain pedal, as some historically accurate players do, but he didn’t make a romantic rendering of it either. He simply presented a flawless performance with unforgettable tone. At this point, one begins to think that Andalaro is like those gifted pianists who make everything sweet and beautiful. In the first movement of Schumann’s Fantasy Pieces, Op. 12, this suspicion held. Not so by the second. Here, Andaloro let a bit of energy creep into the keys, and while he missed some of the rhythmic interest toward the end, he lifted the lid just a bit in anticipation of the wide range of expression and tone he had in store.
The Schumann provided a good opportunity for various articulations, from the subtle background versus the pronounced foreground in the “Warum” movement, to the opposite execution in the “Grillen” movement. Here, the overall texture was loud, and the theme lay quietly in the background. Andaloro kept a careful hand on the theme, and it came to the top without distraction. But all this was child’s play for him, compared with the second half. After the intermission, Andaloro sat down and hammered the low B-flat octave with his left hand, launching a furious charge into the first of three Rachmaninoff Preludes, Op. 23. This one, No. 2 in B-flat major, was violent and athletic. Andaloro’s hands covered the entire keyboard, up and down at full speed and volume. But he never lost track of his sense of musicianship. He did not pound the keys — he created expressive music at the extremes of the instrument. It’s the difference between shouting and singing really loud with good tone. The D major prelude, Op. 23 No. 4, contrasted well with the preceding, very melodic and flowing. But in the G minor, Op. 23 No. 5, Andaloro opened the gate and let the horses bolt. Andaloro’s hands moved so fast and accurately that one could only stare in disbelief. The eyes and ears observed this feat, but the reality of the skill was hard to grasp. Yet, this was not all. Following the dazzling display with the Rachmaninoff, he returned with two works by Liszt. Both featured seemingly impossible pianism, but it was the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 that took the breath away. Maybe it’s that this work has been played in this series many times. Maybe it’s a young guy toying with tempo and articulation in a piece that few musicians can hope to master as Andaloro has mastered it. Or perhaps it’s that even the best pianists in the world do not play this with the clarity of idea and the accuracy of Andaloro. This performance of the Liszt showed an artistic and musical vision, from the playful opening to the magnificently accurate climax, of a young man on his way to the top of his field.